from STLRN President & Founder, Dave Gustafson
It seems to be taking forever for spring to arrive in St. Louis, but here at STLRN we are thankful for the many opportunities we’ve already had this year to bring some “relational warmth” to our region. On the evening of February 10, at the 2nd annual “HeARTS for Racial Reconciliation” event, we had a wonderful time gathering to celebrate the work so many of our friends across the region are doing to help heal the region’s broken race relations.
In March, we wrapped up two 8-week training sessions that were running simultaneously for most of the winter. The first of these was another of our Jn17 classes, this time held at Assumption Parish in O’Fallon MO (St. Charles County). The members of that class are regathering for a “cross-cultural potluck” tomorrow evening. Everyone is bringing a favorite dish that hearkens back to their family’s cultural heritage. I plan to bring Swedish meatballs!
The other recently concluded training session was our first-ever attempt to bring the “multiethnic conversations” class to a public-school: 7th graders at St. Louis City’s Compton Drew Middle School (see pictures below). We utilized Wash U professor Jason Purnell’s report, “For the Sake of All” as the textbook, and named the class “#STL4ALL.” The kids were great and we plan to work with the staff at Compton-Drew on the development of a format that could be replicated and taught in other schools throughout the region.
What’s next on the STLRN calendar? We’re planning to launch Jn17 classes at two other churches soon, one in Ferguson and the other in St. Albans. We’re also continuing to work with STL ArtWorks on our mural idea, Corda de Memoria (Latin for “Hearts of Remembrance”), as a way to honor the far too many young St. Louisan’s that are losing their lives – and also to serve as a public place for gathering those who seek the healing that our region so urgently needs. It should be installed by year-end.
Also, later this year (on September 29), we’ll be hosting the 3rd annual “Race for Reconciliation” -- again at Tower Grove park. We hope to see many of you there! It will include both a 5K timed race (with prizes) and a 1 mile “just-for-fun” walk, so there will be ample opportunities for “people of all paces.”
In the meantime, please enjoy Spring 2018 here in STL, if it ever gets here!